Nfld. & Labrador

Dwight Ball announces independent review of Muskrat Falls

Premier Dwight Ball announced plans to "open the books" on the Muskrat Falls by conducting an comprehensive independent review of the project.

'Cancelling this project is not what this review is about,' Ball said.

Premier Dwight Ball announced a comprehensive independent review of the Muskrat Falls project on Monday. (CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Dwight Ball announced a comprehensive independent review of the Muskrat Falls project at a news conference on Monday. 

Ball said that the review will "open the books" to assess the project's cost, schedule and risk factors. 

"Canceling this project is not what this review is about," he said. 

"Given cost overruns, schedule changes and baseline updates on the Muskrat Falls project, it is prudent for the provincial government to review the project's cost and schedule to determine if there are any critical risks moving forward," Ball added in a statement. 

More than $5 billion has already been spent on the Muskrat Falls project, and the premier said that it would take something very abnormal for the project to be cancelled. The province has also made a commitment to Nova Scotia's Emera. 

 'No reason not to have confidence'

Ball, who was joined Monday by Minister of Natural Resources Siobhan Coady, said that the intent of the review is not to make changes in administration at Nalcor Energy.

"There's no reason not to have confidence," he said. 

Premier Dwight Ball and Natural Resources Minister Siobhan Coady during the announcement of an independent review of the Muskrat Falls project. (David Cochrane/CBC)

Nalcor President and CEO Ed Martin welcomed the review. He said that risk management is a core part of Nalcor's work on Muskrat Falls. 

EY, formerly Ernst and Young, will conduct the review to identify these issues and risks, tackle their root causes, and find corrective actions.  EY has also recently completed a study of the project's cost and schedule management process and controls.

The review is expected to cost between $750,000 and $1 million. 

Ball said the review will first go to the Muskrat Falls Oversight Committee after its completion before being released publicly by March 2016.  

A fiscal update for Newfoundland and Labrador will also be made public at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, as the provincial deficit is now approaching $2 billion. 

Mercury and North Spur not part of review

Ball said that the comprehensive review will focus on construction design and budget concerns, not methyl mercury concentrations or the North Spur stabilization. 

The premier said that Nalcor will meet with the Nunatsiavut government in January to address environmental concerns around methyl mercury.

Martin said that there have been no surprises with work on the North Spur stabilization, and work is going well and as expected.

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